Friday, December 19, 2014

Back in action: Catch-up (8): Andrew Babick: Michigan; New trial on arson-murder convictions granted in light of changes in scientific evidence which had not been available to his defence counsel; Battle Creek Enquirer.


STORY: "Andrew  Babick wins new trial in '95 arson-murder," by reporter Trace Christenson, published by the Battle Creek Enquirer on November 7, 2014.

GIST: "Babick told investigators he went to the house to complain about crack cocaine he purchased earlier. While he waited for the man who sold it, Babick said he fell asleep on the couch and may have dropped a cigarette before eventually leaving. But experts at the trial said the fire was arson and not an accident caused by a cigarette. But at a hearing before Kingsley this year, experts testified that a fire could have started in the couch and then flashed over and penetrated the house through a window, causing the fire which destroyed the structure. Lawyers argued at the hearing that scientific evidence disputing some of the finding of arson has changed but was not available for the trial attorney, Alma Masson-Thurmer. She told Kingsley she had to concede the conclusion of arson presented by prosecutors from the Michigan Attorney General. "She stated that the fire science in use by experts at the time caused everyone to believe the fire was an arson as opposed to being accidentally set," Kingsley wrote in his 12-page opinion. "... she had to focus on who committed the arson, rather than on whether it was an intentionally caused fire." Kingsley found the evidence was new and that the defense tried unsuccessfully to find evidence to contradict the prosecutor. Both were needed for the judge to rule for a new trial. "The test is whether the newly discovered evidence would render a different result probable on a retrial," Kingsley wrote. " ... a different result on retrial is probable.""

The entire story can be found at:

 http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/story/news/local/2014/11/07/andrew-babick-wins-new-trial-arson-murder/18647607/

 See related  Arson Project post: "Andrew Babick, convicted and sentenced to life without parole for a 1995 arson and double murder based on unconfirmed accelerant detection canine alerts and suspicious burn patterns, was given a re-trial." (Link to opinion directing new trial provided);

http://thearsonproject.org/charm/another-arson-conviction-based-on-faulty-forensics-goes-up-in-smoke/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog

Thursday, December 18, 2014

ALERT: Henry Keogh; South Australia; Court of Appeal to deliver its decision Friday December 19 at 4.00 PM local time. This is the first appeal to be decided under the new statutory right of appeal in South Australia. Henry Keogh's 20 year battle for freedom and exoneration - in a case charged with significant forensic and disclosure issues - has been the subject of numerous posts on this Blog. Harold Levy. Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog

 

Back in action: Catch-up (7): Tamara Broomfield; Major development; Ontario to review hair drug tests performed at Hospital for Sick Children; Toronto Star.


STORY: "Ontario launches review of hair drug tests performed at sick kids," by reporters Rachel Mendleson and Richard J. Brennan, published by the Toronto Star on November 28, 2014.

SUB-HEADING: "Five years'  worth of Motherisk lab's tests used in child-protection and criminal cases will get a closer look, after a Star investigation."

GIST: "The Motherisk review, which will be officially announced on Friday, is the latest in a series of high-profile inquiries into Sick Kids, dating back decades. In October 2008, Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Stephen Goudge issued a report lambasting forensic pathology’s state of affairs in the wake of the inquiry into flawed child death investigations by former Sick Kids pediatric pathologist Charles Smith. In 1984, then Justice Samuel Grange led a royal commission investigating a series of baby deaths at Sick Kids, but in the end, no one was held criminally responsible. Calls for the province to examine past Motherisk cases have been mounting since the October appeal court decision in the Broomfield case. At Broomfield’s trial, Motherisk founder and director Gideon Koren testified that tests of the boy’s hair showed he had regularly ingested very high doses of cocaine for more than a year leading up to a 2005 overdose. The appeal court decision came after Craig Chatterton, deputy chief toxicologist in the office of the chief medical examiner in Edmonton, said the “gold-standard” technique was not used. Chatterton, who gave his opinion as an independent consultant, also said the tests should have been conducted in a forensic lab, rather than in a clinical lab, like Motherisk. Based on the conclusions Motherisk presented, Chatterton claimed it was “not possible” to determine whether the boy had ingested or been exposed to cocaine over an extended period. Despite repeated requests, Sick Kids has not said how many other child welfare cases were influenced by the same type of analysis. The hospital has defended the reliability of its Motherisk program, as well as the test used in the Broomfield case.
Sick Kids has said Motherisk has been using the gold-standard technique to test hair for cocaine since 2010, and defends the technique used in 2005 in the Broomfield case as “highly reliable,” based on cross-testing. That leaves a question hanging over at least five years of cases."

The entire story can be found at:

www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/11/28/ontario_launches_review_of_hair_drug_tests_performed_at_sick_kids.html?app=noRedirect

 PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog

 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

René Bailey: New York State: Shaken baby conviction reversed earlier this week. Court hearing set for Monday. Prosecutor to disclose whether state will retry her or appeal the decision. Defence lawyer say she will seek Bailey's release on bail. Reporter Gary Craig. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.


STORY: "Woman whose conviction overturned to be in court," by reporter Gary Craig, published by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on December 17, 2014.

GIST: "René Bailey, whose shaken-baby conviction was reversed this week, is scheduled to appear in court Monday. Bailey, 55, will appear before County Court Judge James Piampiano for a bail hearing. District Attorney Sandra Doorley said she would announce at that time whether she intends to retry Bailey or appeal Piampiano's decision that reversed the 2001 conviction. Bailey was convicted of killing 21/2-year old Brittney Sheets, a child in Bailey's home day care center. Prosecutors contended that Brittney's fatal head injuries were proof of abuse by Bailey. Bailey maintained that Brittney had fallen. In his ruling, Piampiano decided that the science on shaken-baby cases has significantly changed in the past 10 to 15 years, and that there is proof that falls can cause the injuries once believed to be emblematic of the violent shaking of a child......... Bailey's attorney, Adele Bernhard, said she would ask on Monday that Bailey be released. Bailey was free awaiting trial in 2001, Bernhard said, and is not a risk to flee if on bail."

The entire decision can be found at: 

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2014/12/17/rene-bailey-court-hearing-bail-shaken-baby/20553995/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Christopher Brandon; Leevester Brown; Jeffrey Havard: Radley Balko discusses a recent Mississippi Supreme Court ruling that overturns a conviction involving discredited medical examiner Steven Hayne and Shaken Baby Syndrome. The Washington Post.


(Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces.")

"In May and July of this year, I wrote about the case Brandon v. Mississippi, in which defendant Christopher Brandon was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s 15-month-old son. The case involved dubious testimony from the discredited, longtime Mississippi medical examiner Steven Hayne as well as the controversial Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) diagnosis. Brandon was also denied funding to hire his own medical examiner. Over the summer, the state then filed a remarkable brief that would require one to believe that Hayne is capable of traveling through time. In August, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in Brandon’s favor on all of his claims but ordered an evidentiary hearing on Hayne’s credibility instead of granting him a new trial. But last week, the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned a conviction in a remarkably similar case that could be a good sign for Brandon. Leevester Brown was convicted in 2002 of killing his infant son. The conviction was based entirely on Hayne’s diagnosis of SBS. Brown, too, was denied funding to hire his own medical examiner to review Hayne’s work. (Hayne was hired by Coahama County Coroner Scotty Meredith. For more on Meredith, read the transcript of my amusing phone conversation with him from a few years ago.) The court’s decision in the Brown case actually doesn’t turn on Hayne’s credibility or the validity of SBS. That’s because Brown didn’t challenge either at his trial, which generally bars him from raising either argument on appeal. (The state was somehow able to get Hayne’s autopsy stricken from the record in this case. That’s bizarre, given that it was the sole reason for Brown’s arrest.) Because it can’t entertain the argument that the SBS diagnosis is flawed, or that Hayne lacks credibility, the court also finds that there was sufficient evidence to convict Brown at trial.
Instead, the court overturned the conviction because the trial court denied funding for Brown to hire his own medical examiner (which, of course, made it nearly impossible for him to introduce those other issues in the first place)......... So the court ruled that fairness could mandate that a defendant be given funds to hire his own medical expert, even if he hasn’t been declared indigent in the context of needing a public defender. That’s significant. And though the court didn’t rule that the state must provide funding in all cases, it did suggest that judges give more deference to a defendant’s declaration that he can’t afford the cost of hiring an expert. That would seem to help someone like Brandon, as well as death row inmate Jeffrey Havard, who was also convicted due to Hayne’s testimony and an SBS diagnosis, and was also denied funds to hire his own medical examiner.........The state of Mississippi has so far refused to conduct a thorough review of cases that may have been tainted by Hayne and bite mark expert Michael West. That leaves it to groups like the Mississippi Innocence Project and attorneys who take post-conviction cases pro bono to seek out and attempt to overturn the convictions of people wrongly convicted by bad expert testimony. That’s bad enough. But the injustice is compounded when the lethargy of the Office of the Mississippi Attorney General and complicit courts leave the wrongly convicted to languish in prison."

The entire commentary can be found at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/12/16/mississippi-supreme-court-overturns-conviction-involving-steven-hayne-shaken-baby-syndrome/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;


Sent from my iPad

Major development: Hannah Overton: Texas: Mother of 5 freed pending new trial after spending years in prison for foster son's murder. Convicted in 2007 fter being accused of force-feeding Andrew enough salt to kill him, even though she had no previous problems with the law and was raising four children and was pregnant with a fifth. ABC News.


STORY: "Texas mother of 5 freed after spending years in prison for foster son's murder," by reporters Juju Chang, Shana Druckerman and Jon Meyersohn, published by ABC News on December 16, 2014.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/texas-mother-freed-spending-years-prison-foster-sons/story?id=26186920

See Guardian story on Overton's successful appeal: "Before the boy’s death the Overtons had appeared admirable parents to many who knew them. But at Hannah’s trial, which was televised and attracted voracious media interest, she was depicted as a calculating child abuser who punished a naughty boy by force-feeding him with Creole seasoning mixed with water. “This case boils down to a woman who tortured a child, making him sleep on rough plywood, burning sheets, becoming so enraged she forced him to have 23 teaspoons of hot pepper and then watching him die in agony for two-and-a-half hours,” Sandra Eastwood, the lead prosecutor in the trial, told ABC News in 2012. Defence attorneys failed to use testimony from Dr Michael Moritz, a Pittsburgh-based leading expert on salt intoxication. According to court documents they felt that repeated objections from the prosecution cut into his analysis too obtrusively and would have been too difficult to edit in a way that would have been easy for the jury to follow.
However, much of Moritz’s deposition directly refuted the case for murder, including his conclusion that Overton did not poison Andrew, who most likely ate something by himself which caused his illness. Trial testimony suggested the child was a compulsive eater who may have had an undiagnosed eating disorder and would scavenge around for food and put almost anything in his mouth.........Remanding the case for re-trial after seven of nine judges ruled in favour, they wrote in their opinionon Wednesday: “We believe that Dr Moritz’s credibility combined with his testimony would have had a strong impact on the jury and sufficiently undermines the outcome of the trial. But for the defense team’s failure to present Dr Moritz’s testimony to the jury in some way, there is a reasonable probability that the outcome of appellant’s trial would have been different.” They did not address another claim by the defence, who allege that the prosecution withheld evidence that might have helped clear Overton, including test results indicating low stomach sodium levels, which cast doubt on the timing of when the child ingested the lethal quantity of salt, and may show that his foster mother could have done nothing to save him. “Much of this information was hidden from the lawyers and it was through very tenacious inquiry and persistence that I was able to tease out each piece of information. Even when I finally had it all I couldn’t make sense of it until we put it all together, and examined it from all the different sources, and we finally figured out what happened here. All the lawyers were misled,” said Orr."

 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/18/texas-mother-murder-conviction-overton-salt-poison-overturn

See excellent analysis in Grits for Breakfast post: "The DA may want a second bite at the apple but thanks to developments described well in the Texas Monthly story (a key state witness switched sides), it seems increasingly unlikely that will happen." (Links to the Texas Monthly story and other coverage provided).

 http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.ca/2014/12/liberating-turn-in-coastal-bend-saga.html

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Back in action: Catch-up (6): Tamara Broomfield; Law Times says "given the stakes, the province should undertake a review of the approach used by Motherisk and the court cases involving the program and, if necessary, consider the systemic issues raised by the findings."

STORY: "More doubts about evidence, experts," published by the Law Times on November 10, 2014.

GIST: "The latest concern centres on hair-strand analysis performed by the Motherisk program at the Hospital for Sick Children. It follows an Oct. 21 Court of Appeal ruling that admitted fresh evidence and quashed the conviction of Tamara Broomfield on two cocaine-related charges. The victim was her two-year-old son, whom an expert from the Motherisk program concluded must have ingested substantial amounts of cocaine over a 14-month period. The trial judge found Broomfield had given him cocaine during that period, including on July 31, 2005, when he collapsed with seizure-like symptoms. In her appeal, Broomfield sought to admit fresh evidence challenging the expert’s findings based on hair analysis that revealed high concentrations of cocaine. After noting there was no evidence presented at trial to challenge the method used by the Crown’s expert, the appeal court quashed the conviction on the two counts. “The trial judge made her decision unaware of the genuine controversy among the experts about the use of the testing methods relied upon by the Crown expert at trial to found a conclusion of chronic cocaine ingestion, thus, its administration by Ms. Broomfield,” the appeal court found. The appeal court’s findings suggest potential problems when it comes to the reliability of some of the evidence used in and the treatment of expert testimony in these types of cases......... Given the stakes, the province should undertake a review of the approach used by Motherisk and the court cases involving the program and, if necessary, consider the systemic issues raised by the findings."

The entire editorial can be found at:

 http://www.lawtimesnews.com/201411104310/commentary/editorial-more-doubts-about-evidence-experts

See also Toronto Star story: "Sick Kids says it will not review Motherisk hair analysis: "In an email on Monday, Sick Kids spokeswoman Gwen Burrows said that because cases of digestion of cocaine in children are “extremely rare,” the hospital “has not initiated an extensive review of all hair-testing cases.” Burrows said the technique Motherisk used to analyze the hair of Broomfield’s toddler following a 2005 cocaine overdose, “has produced no false-positive results.” However, that contradicts a 2014 report filed during the appeal process by Craig Chatterton, deputy chief toxicologist in the office of the chief medical examiner in Edmonton, whose opinion prompted the court to toss Broomfield’s cocainerelated convictions. Chatterton observed that Motherisk’s cocaine test results from June to August 2010 include “four separate examples of false positive results” using the technique that he criticized in the Broomfield case. During this time period, Motherisk also had “two separate examples of false positive results” for the presence of benzoylecgonine, the main metabolite of cocaine, he said."

 http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/11/11/sick_kids_says_it_will_not_review_motherisk_hair_analysis.html

 PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
 
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
 
http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html
 
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

hlevy15@gmail.com.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;